The Lean Startup

The Lean Startup is a book by entrepreneur and investor Eric Ries. A must read for product managers and leaders in companies large and small!
  1. Successful entrepreneurship is about designing an organization to create new products and services under conditions of extreme uncertainty.  Your most vital function is learning.
  2. You can only innovate at the speed of the experimentation system.
  3. Success is learning how to solve the customer's problem. You should constantly be identifying assumptions, then test them using a minimum viable product, then correct course and repeat with your next assumption.  Use the Build, Measure, Learn cycle.  Set learning milestones, and diligently tracking your learning.  Practice Innovation Accounting by rolling up your learning plan into innovations that have been validated.  Use methods such as Kanban to track your progress.  For Kanban, have a table with the following columns: "Backlog" "In Progress" "Built" "Validated" and cap the number of items per column at, say 3, projects.  Each project moves through the column stages but you must move them all the way through the validate stage before you can start new projects.  This keeps your team honest about validating assumptions.
  4. A startup's runway is the number of pivots it still has left, not the number of months.
  5. Four questions to ask about your product idea to make sure you can sell it once it is built.  Your new customers will come from the actions of past customers, so be sure you are solving a customer need.
    1. Do customers recognize that they have the problem you are trying to solve?
    2. If there was a solution, would they buy it?
    3. Would they buy it from you?
    4. Can you build a solution for that problem? 
  6. Bonus lesson, since this post is about learning: There are three types of growth and your company may be using a combination of these growth engines:
    1. Sticky (track attrition rate or churn rate, your new customer must be > churn rate)
    2. Viral (makes sure your viral coefficient is >1)
    3. Paid (your cost per conversion must be < profit per conversion)

Happy, the movie by Roko Belic

Happy is an uplifting documentary that takes the viewer on a  world journey in search of happiness.  What makes people happy?  How does our culture and environment affect happiness?  How do we get happier?
  1. Belonging is key to happiness. That's why contributing and working in a team setting is so rewarding. Co-housing also creates an environment that fosters belonging.  And Okinawa, the Japnese community with the most 100+ year olds per capita, has a tight-knit community based living that encourages interaction.  They grow and share vegetables with each other and have a weekly marching band that comes by, which encourages people to get on the curb and interact with their neighbors.
  2. Being a part of something greater than oneself generates happiness. That's why religion and spirituality is a source of comfort for billions.  
  3. Gratitude generates happiness.  Practice being thankful everyday.  Being thankful for what you have gives you more happiness than getting what you wish for.
  4. Meditation increases happiness.  Compassion Meditation is the most effective form at altering the brain to become more like a meditation master's brain.
This posts only has four lessons because less is more!

Work Happy

Work Happy, by Jill Geisler, is an excellent book with exercises to help you become a better manager.  Since I need hands-on practice to remember books I read, I particularly like the tool kits and checklists that helps me retain the material.  The book is divided into 3 sections: All About You, All About your Staff, and All About the Workplace.  Here are the five gems that I gleaned from the book.
  1. The Twelve core management competencies are:
    • Maintaining and raising quality
    • Developing and improving systems
    • Coaching employee performance
    • Communicating across the organization
    • Collaborating across the organization
    • Resolving conflicts
    • Building employee motivation
    • Leading with Emotional Interlligence
    • Building teams and team performance
    • Managing change
    • Managing your time and priorities
    • Working with ethics and integrity
  2. Top 5 daily challenges for managers
    • Managers disappoint people everyday.. Don't sidestep this challenge or write off complainers, Do build trust.
    • Manager push people out of their comfort zone..  Don't bulldoze or bully... Do custom calibrate pressure.
    • Managers are routinely caught in the middle.. Don't play coworkers against each other.. Do advocate for your staff.
    • Managers can't always tell people what they want to know.. Don't hoard info.. Do commit to sharing info generously.
    • Managers make mistakes.. Don't assume you must always be smarter.  Do recognize that the way you respond to your employees' mistakes shapes how they respond to yours.
  3. The power grid of leadership
    • Legitimate power.. Your stripes
    • Expert power.. Your smarts
    • Coercive power.. Your stick
    • Reward power.. Your sweets
    • Referent power.. Your Substance.. It's R-E-S-P-E-C-T on steroids 
  4. Do not treat everyone the same.  Remember there are different works styles and preferences.
    • Introvert vs extrovert
    • Detail vs big picture learners... This preference affects how this person responds to different communication, brainstorming formats, change management and new ideas.
    • Thinkers vs feelers.. Hard liners vs soft touches.. This preference affects this person's view of praise, criticism, and social interactions. 
    • Planners vs plungers.. This preference affects the way this person views deadlines, work vs. play, and team tension.
  5. Motivation stems from Competence, Autonomy, Purpose and Growth.  What's your motivation story?  How much satisfaction do you derive from: 

    • Being right
    • Being a pace setter
    • Being an expert
    • Change of pace assignments
    • Getting additional training for new skills
    • Working independently
    • Feeling I have creative freedom
    • Doing something that helps pitchers
    • Working as a member of a high performing team
    • Feeling my ideas are appreciated and implemented
    • Knowing exactly where I stand with my boss
    • Being groomed for bigger things
    • Getting public recognition from boss
    • Getting private recognition rather than public from boss
    • Economic incentives
    • Professional awards
    • Being asked to coach or teach others
    • Working with highly disciplined workers
    • Being held in high regard
    • Friendships and harmony in the workplace
    • Leading the work group
    • Being asked to coach or mentors
    • Liking the workplace, 
    • Having input a out tools and tech
    • Being in the loop